Tennis: Tsitsipas wins after long wait in Miami

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - MARCH 27: Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece plays a forehand against Cristian Garin of Chile in their third round match at Hard Rock Stadium on March 27, 2023 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Clive Brunskill/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by CLIVE BRUNSKILL / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP) Getty Images via AFP
Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece celebrate his victory against Cristian Garin of Chile. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MIAMI – Stefanos Tsitsipas was made to wait, and he was happy to be finally up and running a week after arriving in South Florida for the Miami Open.

On Monday, the world No. 3 got his campaign under way with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 win over Cristian Garin of Chile.

The Greek had a first-round bye and then a walkover win in the second round when Frenchman Richard Gasquet pulled out with injury.

“It has almost felt like a vacation this past week, staying in Miami,” said Tsitsipas.

“I’m glad I got started. It was a difficult match against an opponent who has played good tennis against good opponents in the past. I am happy with the way things turned around and my confidence towards the end.

“I had an eye-on-the-prize attitude and it was effective with how I played in the last game when he was serving.”

Tsitsipas, 24, has not been on court much in recent weeks – he withdrew from Acapulco due to a shoulder injury and was beaten in the opening round in Indian Wells.

The rest has, however, helped him to recover a little from his injury. Although not at his sharpest, he did enough to book his place in the fourth round against Karen Khachanov.

Tsitsipas broke at 4-4 in the third set to make sure of his progress against the Chilean, who enjoyed plenty of support from the crowd.

“I am just going to enjoy this victory. It has been a difficult road to healing in the past few weeks, but I am happy that things are getting better,” he said.

Khachanov defeated Czech Jiri Lehecka 6-2, 6-4 to reach the Miami last 16 for the first time.

In the women’s draw, Elena Rybakina extended her winning streak to 11 matches as she booked her place in the quarter-finals with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Belgium’s Elise Mertens.

The Wimbledon champion is looking to complete the “Sunshine Double” after her triumph in Indian Wells, but she was far from euphoric after her victory.

“Physically I’m not the freshest, but I’m happy that I’m managing and finding my way. To be in a quarter-final is great and hopefully I’m going to play better,” she said.

World No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka outplayed 2021 French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova 6-3, 6-2. Krejcikova had ended Sabalenka’s 13-match win streak in February in Dubai, but Sabalenka defeated the Czech two weeks ago at Indian Wells.

This time, Sabalenka took just 65 minutes to take care of business, going unbroken in the match and facing just one break point.

In the quarter-finals, Rybakina will face Italian Martina Trevisan, while Sabalenka will meet Romanian Sorana Cristea.

There was agony for former US Open winner Bianca Andreescu, who had to be wheelchaired off court after suffering a left ankle injury and retiring against Ekaterina Alexandrova.

The Canadian went down in the third game of the second set, and her Russian opponent advanced at 7-6 (7-0), 0-2 and will next face Czech Petra Kvitova.

“I’m just really sorry that it happened to (Andreescu),” Alexandrova said. “Seeing her on the court in so much pain, it’s just painful to watch.

“You cannot help, you just can do nothing, which is terrible. And I think she’s going to be fine soon, and I’m wishing for her speedy recovery.” AFP, REUTERS

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